<quoted text>At one time, yes I did volunteer and from that experience I speak. Now, I just donate massively in what is called "SCHOOL TAX". While I was volunteering I did an experiment. I brought in a McGuffy reader from the 1890's I didn't find one student at the sixth grade level who could read it without stumbling excessively. These books were standard edition in one room school houses~~where the teacher stoked the wood stove and taught first through eighth grade in one room with no aides, school psychologist, counselors, janitors, principals. Pull out a first grade reader and try it on one of your kids...neighbor kids,friends kids...you will be surprised. Yes, I attended school board meetings the content of those meeting consisted primarily about "SPORTS"--problems with coaches, eligibility requirements.
I can definitely attest to the sports fanaticism in my area. However, I must state that our schools are consistently recognized as top performers nationally. Nevertheless, I know we can do even better, but I think there is far too much importance placed on sports. Our school board won't even touch scheduling changes because the parents whose precious ones play club sports (volleyball, hockey, soccer, basketball, etc.) would not stand for their little angels having a longer school day or adjusting school hours because that interferes with practice schedules and travels out of town to tournaments. Unbelievable.
I am not surprised by the findings our your experiment. In this area, many public elementary schools conduct weekly spelling tests, but I'm amazed that the words aren't introduced as vocabulary. The kids need only know who to spell the words -- their definitions aren't important. I'm also surprised at how low student expectations can be in so-called "successful" school districts. Many assume that only schools in urban environments suffer from teachers having low expectations. Not so. I'm not saying that children should be stressed out by their classes, but I do believe in setting the bar high and pushing children to do their best without excuses.
I could go on and on, but I'll jump down from the soapbox now. I know it gets frustrating for all of us, but the bottomline is that we can not give up on trying to improve public schools. It will happen if enough of us keep up the pressure.